Arrival: June 29 to July 5 AIRLINE & VACATION PACKAGE Sunwing, All-inclusive Deluxe Club. Booked via Sunwing Vacations website. DESTINATION FLIGHT Boeing 737-800, new plane? Departed gate ~25 minutes late, + ~20 more waiting for runway. Mild turbulence mid-way for a few minutes. Good communication from flight deck. Technically we were late by ~40 minutes but considering it was a direct flight it seems we should have been there earlier. RETURN FLIGHT On-time departure, arrived early 45 minutes. Mild turbulence mid-way for half hour. Really good communication from flight deck. OVERALL FLIGHTOverall good performance and service. In-flight meal a surprise. Staff curteous and friendly. Some conflicting info about flight itself; website said route was via Puerto Plata. Phone-in confirmation said direct to Punta Cana. At airport check-in, staff said it was via Puerto Plata, boarding staff said it was direct. Turned out flight was direct. AIRPORTS Toronto Pearson Term 1 – ticks like a fine watch but security check is inconsistent; seems to be both strict and lax at the same time. Some are asked to remove their shoes before they walk through, others are not. Some are asked to keep in line and drop everything onto the inspection belt, others allowed to jump queue. Note to CAATS staff; there’s no need to be rude. Just because someone reponds a bit slow, or confused, or asks a question, doesn’t mean you can be indignant and condescending. Punta Cana – simple, effective, works pretty smooth, except the 40" flat-screen monitors incorrectly indicate which baggage-belt is for which flight. Then after 10 minutes standing about wondering, someone will walk by and shout to the crowd where their luggage actually is. This also happened on other belts while we waited, both trips to Punta Cana. TOUR/VACATION REPRESENTATIVE Were told to meet him at 8:00 am on morning following arrival. He arrived at ~8:35 and informed that 8:00 was incorrect; it was actually 11:45 and he would return at the proper time because he had other resorts to visit first. He arrived around noon and we had an info session. We and all other guests attending expressed dissatisfaction with rooms provided and after some contentious discussion he agreed to feedback to Sunwing and help out with the hotel and would let us know next day as to Sunwing’s response. HOTEL SHUTTLE
Sunwing Counter easy find. Shuttle was modern air-conditioned bus; trouble-free, about 15 minutes. Driver and assistant very helpful, courteous, and gave a friendly, humorous information session during the drive to the resort. Needless to say they got a nice tip.
CHECK IN & LOBBY
Arrived approximately 10:00 pm. Check IN relatively easy and quick. About 10 minutes, during which the front desk staff provided information about the hotel, amenities, some rules, regulations, precautions, extra cost items, etc. They also provided some printed information in an arrival "packet". Within 15 minutes we were in our room. The lobby and the immediate area are truly "Grand" with double opposing curved staircases and very inviting lounging areas.
Rooms: ROOMS: 3-stars
Immediately disappointed with the room. Building 4, 3rd floor, pool view; No way whatsoever 4-star. At best 3-star. Everything very poor; musty and mouldy odour, stained floors and walls, crumbling plaster painted over, uneven tiles on floor & walls of bathroom, several areas of soiled, stained or deteriorating tiles and grout, dirty and dusty closet, dated furniture subject to multiple repairs, balcony door impossible to lock, rusty and mouldy door jambs, Hallways and stairs poor, doors soiled, rusty, or poorly finished. Stair steps broken in places and pieces missing or loose. We looked at some of the other buildings and found little difference among them. We spoke immediately to front desk and expressed dissatisfaction that this was not accommodation we paid for and expected, and asked for a better room. Were told deluxe room was only one they had and only Master Junior Suite was better. Plus hotel was full and nothing else was available, return at noon next day and also speak to the Sunwing rep. Next day, after speaking with the Sunwing rep, where all the guests of Sunwing attending complained of poor room conditions, we again spoke to the front desk to 2 different staff members and were told that we had to speak with the manager, but we would get another room at 3 pm. At 3 pm, went to front desk & found different staff again. After speaking with 2 new staff and 1 previous staff and getting similar responses from each, all the staff scattered. After waiting several minutes one of the staff spoken to previously came out and we had to be very forceful in asking for the manager as they had promised. In the exchanges and discussion with staff they gave every possible excuse about how rooms were classified. First they only had 2 types of rooms. Then they classified their rooms as standard or deluxe based on view and location. Then they had some rooms that were recently renovated but were not as nice. We went to see but in effect it was only slightly better. Returning to the front desk we stated it was no better and they offered yet another room in Building 6. We accepted this room despite it being smaller, mostly because it was much cleaner. So far nearly a day of our vacation was lost already as we were still packed while negotiating. The lack of an alarm clock not a problem. Cleaning staff was OK. We left a $2 US every day. Somehow the AC kept resetting itself; we would set it low-fan, 25 degrees, but every time we came back to the room it was set to high-fan, 20 degrees, which made the room far too cool, more like 15. This went on all week. The bed was firm yet comfortable but the pillows were small, thin and lumpy. On day 2 things got interesting. We had been approached several times by sales staff trying to sell time-share packages which we declined. Suddenly they seemed much more aggressive. We declined a couple more times but on the third occasion we walked away only to have another individual approach us saying he was the supervisor of sales and that we really should go to the session to get "important information" that was "very valuable". He was very forceful and was quite upset when we refused, and demanded (!) that we attend. What followed was a 3-hour waste of a beautiful, dry, sunny afternoon having a 25-year vacation membership package pitched to us, neatly priced to fit our budget, after they had conveniently found out what our budget was. And, of course, an upgrade to our current room was included. NO SALE, but we did end up finding out that they did have even better rooms in building 3 and building 7 that were reserved for the club members. Frankly, they weren’t that much better; just bigger.
Restaurants and Bars: RESTAURANTS: 3-stars WINDOWS Buffet; Food fairly good at all meals, good range of choice and quality. Seating plentiful. Staff for the most part was good but some had bad attitude. Wine had an odd flavour but was OK. The name WINDOWS is fitting due to the large tall windows on 3 sides. Despite the windows being always wide open, there’s very little airflow and it gets sticky hot. There are about 15 tables on the outside but it’s too few given the size of the buffet. But I suppose one can’t complain about it being hot in the tropics. The other thing is that insects and birds get into the building, so it’s a bit concerning to see a bird on a table or a chair nearby while dining, but to be fair very few. Floors were extremely slippery a couple of times. And, hey Grand Oasis Chefs; FYI, lots of people like goat meat so there’s no need to call it lamb. 24HR SNACK BUFFET & BEACH GRILLE On arrival this was the only place to get a snack. Despite it being relatively early (10:30 pm) there was very little available; hot dogs, hamburgers, & fries. Nonetheless we made a decent cheese & tomato sandwich which the chef very happily allowed us to toast on the grille. Hit the spot! Did it again later in the week and the chef recognized us and went one step further by offering to heat and toast it in the pizza oven. Double-good. Fried chicken was very good at the beach grille. ITALIAN Nice, cozy. Meal was good. Nice menu choices. Too hot however for July 2, the AC was not turned on and there were not many windows. MARE Didn’t dine there as the menu choices were repetitive and uninviting. The location is very nice however under a huge canopy close to the beach where guests can sit and relax during off-dining hours. Part of the Snack Bar is also used for this restaurant setup. JAPANESE & AMERICAN Restaurants Did not frequent as we are not fans of Japanese; would have tried American if not for the $18 US cover charge. BARS: 2.5 stars
All drinks weak and inconsistent, sloppily made. We had to wait two days to finally get a proper Mojito. They kept offering similar with flavoured syrup which was horrible. Half the soft-drink & juice fountains didn’t dispense. Bar counters were always wet or sticky. Half the time the bar staff was grumbling to each other instead of serving, and even though my Spanish is fractured I could tell they were bitter. A couple of bartenders were more interested in developing their bottle-handling and spinning skills rather than serve guests even though it was very busy at times. Several were more interested in chatting up the girls. Everything was served in plastic glasses or Styrofoam cups, but you could ask for a proper glass or ceramic cup, but again some bartenders would oblige, others would bark back that they didn’t have any. The music volume was too low most times and sometimes nearly inaudible.
24 HR Ridiculously poor service by every bartender that worked there. Half the time the power was out and they couldn’t supply hot water or coffee. PATIO POOLSIDE BAR This was the bar we frequented most. Centrally located and near the pool with two patio areas; one above on one side, the other at grounds level on other side. It was nice to sit above under the canopy and enjoy the cool breeze during the hot afternoons. One of the bartenders, If I recall correctly was named Alzeides, was very nice, enthusiastic and accommodating to our requests with a warm smile and took action to get some mint. Beach/Pools/Grounds: BEACH 4.5-stars superb, absolutely no disappointments, fine white sand, lots of shade, lots of chairs, lit at night, beautiful clean water. Some sand-fly bites and sea-grass but that’s expected. GROUNDS 4-stars superb, clean, maintained, well-groomed and landscaped. Nice layout, very compact and easy to get around without feeling crowded. CASINO; $5 coupon at check-in but you can only redeem it if you purchase $20 play. POOLS 1 pool, clean, warm, busy, didn’t try it; I like the beach better Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel: Didn’t try any but there was a good choice. Other Comments: TO ANYONE CONSIDERING THIS RESORT: Make sure you understand what you are getting. For me it was not 4-star, considering cost. But I could have overlooked it had it not been for the poor staff service and attitude. Nonetheless if you end up like me, let it go and remember to still have a good time doing what you enjoy; life is short. To GRAND OASIS: You have to clean up to call yourselves 4-star. All your rooms need much better maintenance and a thorough clean-up/refresh. Your staff needs improving also; half were friendly, helpful, prompt, the others were indifferent, condescending, and grumbly. One person at the front desk in particular was positively awful; he treated both myself and another guest with obvious disdain after we questioned or asked for explanation. I understand the time-share Vacation Club sales thing but they are far too aggressive! They are everywhere and they don’t take repeated nos. If they need to be there then at least teach them to appear friendly and approach with a smile. In no way is this 5-star like some web reviews/sites say. Also definitely NOT 4-star overall. Some things yes, but most not. 3 star overall at best.
SUNWING: I suggest you take a close look at the relationship that exists between Grand Oasis Punta Cana and Sunwing. There is too much misinformation and too many misleading statements. If this resort had been rated at 3-star at a cost 25% less then there would be no issues; ultimately we (and other guests to whom we spoke) feel we did not receive what we paid for.